Menus. Do you hate to go into a favorite place to eat and see a new menu? One of the first thoughts that comes to my mind is they have raised their prices. But often more disturbing is some favorite menu item is no longer available. We might miss a blessing of something new and maybe even better because we cannot get past the change. I want to make some observations about God’s supply of our needs, and through a passage in Philippians 4:10-20.
The apostle Paul is in Rome under house arrest. He is awaiting an appearance before Caesar and he is paying for his own accommodations. The church in Philippi has dispatched one of their leaders, Epaphroditus to come and deliver to him an offering. So one of the reasons that Paul writes this letter to the church is to express his appreciation. I just want to make some observations about this text that might be helpful in your life.
Paul had some needs! But he was not needy.
Paul wants to genuinely express his appreciation for a generous gift that is very timely in his life. He thanks them for sending it because it met some needs that he had.
But Paul wants to also make it clear that he is not needy. He tells us in Philippians 4 that he has learned how to live with both abundance and in very meager circumstances. His ability (his strength) to do this is in Christ. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (4:13)
He also wants the believers in the church who would read his letter to understand that his confidence and trust that his needs were going to be met was in God alone. “My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory through Christ.”
Paul knew that God would supply his needs somehow. He did not necessarily know that it would come from them. His gratitude was in their sharing in his time of imprisonment because it demonstrated their love. It is the awareness of their support more than the gift itself that mattered to Paul.
In contrast with that, Paul comments, “No church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only.” (Phil. 1:15) I wonder what must have crossed Paul’s mind as he wrote this. Did he ponder why some of the churches he had invested in so deeply of himself had not stepped up to help? What about Corinth and Ephesus where he had worked bi-vocationally and did not take any payment from the churches? After all he had done, they were not there for him.
Investing in Relationships.
Someone has said, “Invest in Relationships like you do the Stock Market/Buy Low.” In other words, the time for us to pour ourselves into people is when they are at a low point, and in reality cannot do something in return. It is easy to ride with someone in his or her limousine. Will we ride with them when they have to take the bus, or even thumb a ride?
Who is there in my life, or in your life that God has placed there in a moment of need they are facing? Who might need us with no hope of ever repaying what we may do for them? Paul writes, “Not that I seek the gift . . .” You sent Epaphroditus as your representative to be with me. I am so glad, says Paul that you were able to let your care for me flourish again. (4:10)
God Meets Our Need through His People.
God is our source. He is our supplier. “My God will supply all your need,” said Paul. But God’s supply line is His people. God’s people are the conduit through which God’s supply travels. This is one of the reasons we need the church so desperately. If we are living all alone, we will miss God’s supply line.
God’s Supply Often Comes through Surprising Sources.
One of the things that made the gift so meaningful to Paul is they gave out of a position of great need. There were churches that had more. But Paul knew that God’s provision was coming from God’s storehouse, “His riches in glory.” The church’s apparent resources did not limit God.
When Jesus fed the 5000, what was the supply line? It was a small boy with a few small fish and loaves of bread. It was a boy who offered the lunch his mom had packed for him. How often do we miss God’s supply source because we don’t notice a small boy?
God’s Supply Line changes in different Seasons of Your life.
God will provide what you need in each season of your life. For 40 years God gave the Israelites manna. For 40 years God has been dropping things out of heaven to feed the children of Israel. (Sometimes it is while your faith is at its weakest that God works the biggest miracles). But when they get to the edge of Canaan, God takes the manna off the menu.
Now they enter a season to sow and to water. Now they can move from being someone in need, to someone who meets needs. You may starve in the new seasons of life if you don’t know how to access God’s changing source of supply.
Just because God takes manna off the menu doesn’t mean He isn’t going to supply. I am grateful for those seasons of manna from heaven. But I suspect that after 40 years they had run out of new recipes for fixing manna. Now they would eat the fruit of the land. Imagine how sweet that must have tasted.
God’s Provision in Your life is in Proportion to His Purpose in Your Life.
Paul says, “My God will supply your need.” God doesn’t promise everything we want. God has a greater purpose, and He always knows best. But He will never leave us without what we need to accomplish His purpose.
Sometimes in some seasons the enemy will lead you to believe God isn’t going to supply, or that He doesn’t see Your need, or that He doesn’t love you anymore. It is so important that we know and understand the truth of His Word. God is for us.
But be careful that some “prosperity peddler” of a preacher doesn’t lead you to look for some source other than God. God is always on time. The only way to stand strong is to abide in Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit, standing on the truth of God’s Word.
We don’t typically know what God is doing. But we need to trust God to accomplish His purpose.